The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) on Friday celebrated its 21st year as a United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site, with an excerpt from the online Marine World Heritage Site Managers’ online meeting.
In a Facebook video released Friday afternoon, Katrin Blomvik Bakke, one of the Marine World Heritage Site managers from West Norwegian Fjords, said that the tourism impact of COVID-19 has been “pretty heavily affected” as they struggle to bounce back stronger from the effects of the pandemic.
“We are pretty heavily affected this season. Tourism and tourism income is a huge part of the finance and we are now struggling with how to put together a safe future for both our employees and also all our imported projects.” Bakke said.
Fred Nucifora from Great Barrier Reef Australia admitted that for the first time in history, the Great Barrier Reef tourism industry “completely shut down” since there are no tourists yet.
“The first time in the great barrier reefs history that we saw is a complete shutdown of the great barrier reefs tourism industry,” he said.
But Nucifora said they’ve been using technology to connect with the world.
“We been using technology to hit the world connected to the great barrier reef as well as during this time,” Nucifora said.
Elizabeth Maclang, park superintendent (PASu) of the PPSRNP, said that the “Isla Phenomena”, the first diving site in Barangay New Panggahan, shifted to “freshly baked goodies” made out from their own bakery as most of the tour operators have temporarily stopped their operations.
“The Isla Phenomena which is the first diving site in Barangay New Panggahan, a small village here. Now serves the community freshly baked goodies from their own bakery,” she said.
Maclang said amidst these trying times, the community found an opportunity in agriculture, fishing, and making use of available resources around their property.
“One of our most and top tourist destination in the nation, somehow they realized that agriculture and fishing and using other resources inside their properties are very important.” Maclang said.
“As we face global catastrophe post by this global pandemic, we forget the climate change bigger crisis than just like the pandemic will surely be gone as to when this will happen, none of us has the answers.” she added.
Since 2013, the PPSRNP milestone is celebrated with a thanksgiving ball with their partners and stakeholders to celebrate and express gratitude.
UNESCO has inscribed the Underground River as a World Heritage Site on December 4, 1999.